Where’d I Go? Over Here…

Greetings and Felicitations, to all of those dear readers (and you are truly dear, if you are still reading this blog after so long a hiatus from regular updates)!

I have moved my blogging activities to my new website called Eccentricities of an Inchoate Hero! I have a huge backlog of things to share with all of you, things I have learned in the past five years, things which have changed me (for the better, by the grace of God). I am a new man, in many ways, but in reality I am now more of who I was aspiring to be back when I was writing here. I’ve gone through a lot, and I hope to be able to pass on some of the lessons I’ve learned through it all. I’m also opening up more about myself, being more transparent. So please come over and check out my new place, and let me know what you think!

God bless and grace you all superabundantly beyond your imaginations, driving you from your comfort zones and into the arms of God,

Your brother in Christ,

Jaymes Lauser

Sir Emeth Mimetes

Whythawye

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A little writing… what is love?

What is love?

 

The first cry of a newborn child, echoing in her mother’s heart like the ripples of a new fountain, which never cease to tremor and fill her life with the simple joy that now, she is a mother.

 

The beauty of a rose on a hillside, the grass nestling it against your cheek.

 

The tired ache of a husband, old beside his wife’s grave, longing for the vanished part of him which he will never have again.

 

The joy at the end of a new book, which is now a part of your soul, the people within it, a part of your life.

 

The still shifting of the wind against your frame as you stand on a hill, gazing out over the nation which you have called your own.

 

The slow rising of warm tears, melting your sight as you fall into the depths of her smiling eyes at last.

 

The blood falling to the ground from your friend’s throat, bubbling with the last breaths of the life he gave for you.

 

The pressure of a father’s head against his son’s shoulder in the last embrace of his boyhood, on the threshold of his first step into marriage.

 

The soft touch of a girl’s hand on her baby brother’s sleeping cheek, preceding a small, clumsy kiss through which her soul pours.

 

The sweat loosening the grip of the hand holding the sword between the tyrant and the enslaved.

 

The grume of the earth falling from the pick, the torn hands bringing bread from toil for another, a beloved, to eat.

 

The shrinking of a heart from an invader, saving the promised treasure for another.

 

The pain of a blow struck in the face of a mocker, defending the right and preserving the pure.

 

The glint in the eye over the grim smile of the man who turns away and doggedly chooses yet again the path of righteousness.

 

The tender and committed smile as the ring slips on the young girl’s finger, never to be removed.

 

The shaking hands clenched in prayer, drenched in tears for the sorrow of another’s toils and trials.

 

The comforting word returning upon the bitter lash of a weary tongue.

 

The hope pouring from the crushed visage of a man hanging and broken into the heart of a weary child, seeking rest.

 

The gentle word reaching into my secrets, laying bare to my shuddering sight the vile, mired flesh of my failures.

 

The strong voice beating into a rebel’s heart, washing and driving against his fears to turn him from death.

 

The touch of the creator’s hand on a broken life, never to leave it again.

 

Love is…

 

How do you know that’s what that means?

Volume Two of Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of...

Image via Wikipedia

As said by Mark Twain – “Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.

Very true. But how ought we to be careful? Quite simple: don’t believe everything you read. Read multiple health books instead of just one, for example. Experiment, research, study. Agreeing with the first thing you hear is not trust – it is gullibility.

Many would concede this point, especially about health. I mean, there are so many different views! How can you possibly be sure you stumbled on the right one on the first try? Just because something is critically acclaimed doesn’t mean it is right… the critics aclaim many things. But…

What about dictionaries?

Think about it. How do you know that is what that word really means?

People often expect dictionaries to be flawless. But they aren’t, of course. And as I continually affirm… the definitions of the words we use are paramount. Our success and failure as a culture depends on lexicology on many levels. But again, dictionaries are not infallible.

A very famous example illustrating the fallibility of dictionaries and lexicographers alike refers to a time when a country woman accosted Dr. Johnson and asked him why he defined ‘pastern’ as the knee of a horse, which is actually called the fetlock (notice that this country lady had evidently been actually reading the dictionary instead of just looking up words she didn’t know, which we rarely do now, unfortunately). He replied that he hadn’t known what the definition was for sure, and so had guessed. This approach was pretty common, actually, until Webster came along and revolutionized lexicography, overturning not only Johnson’s dictionary, but also his methods of lexicology.

See, people tend to look to dictionaries as the end-all of knowledge and debate. Dictionaries define words, so how can they be wrong?

But they don’t. Did you get that? Let me say that again:

Dictionaries don’t define words.

This is imperative to understand. A lexicographer has a tremendous responsibility, but it is not to define words. He does not create definitions out of thin air – he merely transmits and records definitions that already exist.

A lexicographer’s job is to study language, and from that study, discover what the proper definitions for words are, and then record them. But what does he study? How does he discern what constitutes a proper definition? And what indicators and areas of research does he use to distill his knowledge from?

Depends on the lexicographer, honestly. They don’t all agree on what considerations should be considered, and they definitely don’t agree on how much weight each consideration should hold in relation to the others. Just read Webster’s 1828 dictionary, and you will see the conflict written into almost every definition, etymology, and comment. It is quite humorous, actually, the way he continually pokes jabs at other lexicographers (particularly Johnson). He sometimes spends whole paragraphs demonstrating solidly his own view of a particular definition or history. Quite educational and entertaining, I assure you. 😉

Now, I am not a lexicographer. I don’t write dictionaries. Nor am I qualified to do so by any standard (unless you mean a dictionary of a language in my world, of course, hehe). A true lexicographer really needs to know at least a dozen languages beyond fluency, and be a cultural expert like none other. I am nowhere near attaining either of those positions, so my dictionary will have to wait.

But I am a lexicologist, as much as I can be. I study communication with a focus on proper meanings and uses in language. Lexicologists study similar things as lexicographers, but they use their knowledge differently. Rather than seeking to reform language by recording it, they do so by using it.

They weigh their words and seek to create an example of proper communication for other people to be inspired by and emulate.

They examine their assumptions and study the art and science of conveying meaning in the best way possible for their ends.

And so, like lexicographers, they need to have a system by which they discern what words ought to mean.

And so…

Here is mine. * grins *

Yeah, that was just the intro. Hehe. I hope you’ll keep reading, though, ’cause I’ve been wanting to tell you about this for a long time now. It is really awesome.

I got excited when I first figured it out. I’m still working on it, of course, but that just means you get to help me out with it. 😉

There are five categories of considerations that I have resolved out of the quagmire of the world of chaos that is language, and they really bring a lot of sense into the whole picture. At least they do for me. They are:

Propriety

Contemporary Usage

Traditional Usage

Literary Usage

Etymology

Each one of these could have volumes written about them, of course, but we don’t need that much to be able to improve our discernment quite a lot. So here is an overview of how to use these.

I wrote those in a specific order for a reason. See, that is precisely the priority order in which you should rank these categories. Contemporary usage takes precedence over traditional usage, literary usage takes precedence over etymology, etc. If there is a conflict, always let the primary definition reflect the higher category of consideration.

The ones lower down can inform use and definition, but they are a very shaky foundation. So a lot of context is needed to help refine and support your communication when using definitions founded on them.

Now to examine each one in a bit more detail, starting first with Propriety.

Most people ignore this consideration entirely. But it is, in fact, quite possible to have a very wrong definition for a word even if it reflects perfectly contemporary, traditional, literary usage, and etc. Especially as Christians, we should pay very close attention to propriety in meanings. I’m not talking about choosing one word over another based on appropriateness, please note. I am talking about crafting the network of available meanings in your language.

See, lexicologists get to say what words should mean. Not just what they do mean, but what they are supposed to mean. That is part of their job: to help guide language in a productive and beneficial path.

Unfortunately, there have been all too many sophists holding the lexicological reigns in recent generations, and not nearly enough solid Christians dedicated to truth. Hencely, our culture of language has deteriorated along a very precise pattern of ungodly obfuscation. Meaning itself has lost its meaning, and the most important words in our language have become eroded to such a degree that we are crippled in our efforts to discuss them, much less live or teach them. Words like love, truth, belief, God, sin, crime, submission, trust, faith, hope, good, evil, life, honor, and equality have been completely twisted, diluted, viciated, and sterilized from the Truth.

We cannot teach righteousness, because there are no words to use to express the fundamentals of righteousness. And thus we have confusion in our pulpits, in our families, in our homes, in our children, in our churches, in our converts, and in our hearts. What else would you expect?

But propriety isn’t the first place we look when it comes to discerning the proper definition of a word. In actuality, it is the last thing I look at, once I have already examined the rest of the stack. And then I use it to mold and craft the definition already arrived at.

The first place I look is Contemporary Use. There are three parts to this: precise (or official, or technical), common, and niche use. Precise use is what is officially proclaimed as the current, technically accurate definition, generally in grammar books and dictionaries. Common use is the way people tend to use it in normal conversation. Niche use is the way people use it when they are stretching the definition – when because of the context, someone uses a word far outside of its precise meaning.

Then I look at Traditional Use. Again, at the precise, common, and niche uses, but this time I look at them in how they have changed over the years from the birth of the word. I look at what these changes reflect, in particular.

After that, I get to look at Literary Use. In other words, I look at how individual books have used the word uniquely. See, in a book, a person can use a word in a completely unique way, in the context of his subject. This is especially true of fiction, particularly fantasy and sci-fi. They can turn the language on their head in those genres, and completely get away with it. Which is fine. That’s the way it is supposed to work. The difference between literary use and niche use is that niche use is looking at the spread out usage across many different people, while literary use looks at each individual book in a unique way.

And then down at the tail end I take a glance at etymology: the history of the creation of the word, basically. Kinda nice and handy, but not really something to base much off of.

This also happens to be the same basic pattern that I use for lexicological dissections of passages of Scripture. But since this is getting really long as it is, I’ll let you all speculate on that in the comments. 😉

But seriously – comment and ask questions. I would love to expound more… so ask away. 😀

I’m Sorry

Aughh

Aughh

No, that isn’t just a catchy title, I really am sorry. I had a topic to post about (a fascinating one on how to properly define a word), but today and yesterday I simply haven’t been able to write. A lot of reasons, but one of them has to do with the subject of these two posts:

http://duchessdaisy.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/in-which-this-blog-turns-into-a-baby-blog/

http://duchessdaisy.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/new-pictures/

Yep, my twin, Carissa Mann (aka Duchess Daisy), has a new baby sister! I can’t express how excited I am about this… little Esther is almost a real sibling to me.

And then, of course, losing power this afternoon kind of threw things out of whack too. And I’ve been reading a lot for the Read-a-Thon as well. But enough excuses, haha. If you know me real well, you can probably guess (or already know) all the other, bigger, reasons why I haven’t been able to write.

I pray I’ll be able to get a post out next week for you though, I really want to set down and have a good chat on lexicology with y’all. 😉

God bless!

Jay

Avast There and Listen Up! I Got Some’at To Say!

think outside the box

Image by smemon87 via Flickr

“God is wrong.”

“God Never Forgets.”

“What are the differences between being anxious to please God, and being anxious to please a man?”

“God never has an opinion about anything.”

“Is miserable. * cheerily *”

“Is cannibalism wrong?”

“Is polygamy wrong?”

Those are just a few of the controversial statuses that I have propagated over my networks recently, sparking an astonishing variety of responses. And that doesn’t count all the controversial posts I have written on here over the course of my blog’s lifetime, and all the fascinating responses those have incurred as well.

Almost every time I post one, though, at least one person voices some confusion over why I write them.

Good question. A very good question.

And so I am doing it again in order to answer! Isn’t that dandy? 😀

First off, I must admit, it is a lot of fun to rile people up, make them guess, and tease them. ‘Tis true, and I humbly acknowledge the fact.

But that isn’t really the whole reason why I do it. It is actually only a small part of it. The main reason is much bigger.

See, there are two kinds of motives that I use alternately, depending on the medium, space, and time available. The first is to stir up people to help them think about something in a way they hadn’t before. I’ll get to why I believe that is important in a bit. The second is to present my own belief on a subject in order to give people more options in their beliefs and aid their understanding of that subject.

If I only have room for a quick question or a startling statement (like a status), I will go for the first one. I will rarely give my own position on these sorts of conversations, at least not right up front, but will instead focus on guiding the conversations of the people who comment.

That is because my goal is not to teach a piece of knowledge, but to teach a skill. A skill.

That skill is a way of thinking. I am trying to exercise a system of learning that people rarely use anymore, as a way to help my friends. Right, I am not just being mean, I am actually giving you something.

And it isn’t just thinking outside the box. This is a special type of thinking outside the box.

See, I want to help you analyze your lexicological assumptions, even at the very heart of your worldview. A lot of people are willing to think outside the box when it comes to things like design, or writing style, and artistic things like that, or even with things like engineering problems. But very few people are willing to go out on a limb and consider alternative explanations for facts (or even new facts that might conflict with the explanations they hold to be true) when they are directly relevant to their fundamental worldview.

People might even consider looking at alternative definitions if they are about peripheral things, but never about foundational things.

Why?

Because it is scary! A lexicological shift that deep can have massive repercussions throughout your life. You could even become a completely different person. I know. It’s happened several times to me. The power of changing lexicological assumptions at the foundational level is real, very real. But that also means it is important, extremely important, that you get those lexicological assumptions correct.

What if they are wrong, and changing them to something that is more right would change your life drastically… for the better?

What if you are missing out on loads of God’s blessings because you were too scared to even consider the possibility that they might be out there for you?

Right. The consequences of not looking are more scary than looking!

And so I help people consider alternative ways of looking at their own beliefs. I force them out of their little bubbles of complacency. I give them little nudges, giving them little glimpses of other ways of looking at things. And then they get the choice to examine their assumptions and possibly choose one that is better than the one they had before.

Even if I don’t give them what I think is the right answer, and even if they don’t change their minds about anything, I can still succeed. Because my goal is to get them to think about it in a certain way. If I succeed in that, I am happy.

But what about when I actually do make the effort to put across my own perspective on a subject? Like this blog post? Why am I writing it?

It isn’t to make you agree with me.

Honest. I’m not here to make everyone in the world agree with me. Or all the people who read my stuff. Or even to make all my friends agree with me. In fact, I don’t want that. Because that would mean I wouldn’t learn anything! I’m not right about everything. In fact, I am probably wrong about almost everything. And what I know is piddling compared to what is out there. People disagreeing with me is not a threat, and I don’t see it that way.

The goal is to provide a different perspective on a subject that you may not have seen or considered before.

My brain-tweaking statuses are there to help you learn to look at different perspectives, and my blog posts are there to provide you with a different perspective to look at. You really don’t understand a subject until you have seen multiple explanations for the relevant facts. Plain and simple.

That is also why I don’t debate, in either the conversations from my statuses, or in the comments on my blog posts. Debating removes learning, and learning is my goal: not convincing.

Would I like it if people changed their minds because of what I write? And if because of it they draw closer to God and are able to serve Him better? Yes! But that can only happen after these other two goals are met, and I can only achieve it by aiming at these two goals.

So there you are. That is why I write these weird things. And also why I avoid debating them. I’m not hear to preach. I’m here to reveal.

Honor vs. Respect

Greetings,

I recently wrote a post on the Rebelution forum in reply to a question about respecting and honoring our parents. I thought you all would like to read it as well.

——-

Respecting and honoring your parents is inextricably connected with obeying them. To refuse to obey is to refuse to honor and respect them as God commanded. This is because they are our God-given authorities, and to reject that authority is to dishonor them. This only changes when they are no longer our authorities (i.e. after marriage), and thus honoring and respecting them no longer requires obedience.
But for now, obedience is crucial. And rebellion is to be rejected with all diligence. I talk about rebellion further in a blog post I did on my blog a while back, check it out if you want my biblical case on the issue.

I just wanted to make that point, because so many people think they can just “respectfully decline” to obey their parents when they disagree with them. You can’t. It is an oxymoron.

What are some areas that you struggle to respect your parents in?

I used to struggle to respect my parents in everything, in anything. I was horribly, wickedly rebellious, and took every opportunity to live it out. When I became saved, my life radically changed, and I devoted myself to respecting and honoring and obeying the authorities in my life, particularly my parents. It was the first stronghold in my life that I conquered for Christ, and I am ever thankful that I did.

God has given me victory in this area, almost completely. I still have qualms where I see their mistakes and humanness and want them to do better, but I turn it over to God and pray for them. But primarily, I focus on the huge, incredible, vast majority of things that they have done for me, and which God has blessed me with in them. Their few weaknesses are nothing compared to the evil that still lurks in my life.

How are you striving to not only respect your parents, but go a step farther and honor them?

There is an important difference between respect and honor.

You can and should respect all men: because it simply means to give due diligence to them. You give them the regard due them as a human being to measure their worth, and then give them that level of value. You examine their wisdom, to see how much credence you should attach to their counsel. You examine their strength, to see how much trust you can impose upon them. You examine their love, to see how much you can open yourself up to them.

(Respect can also mean to give credence to someone, which is synonymous with honor. That definition is used in the Bible several times, but this is not the primary definition, and not the one that is contrasted with honor, because it is identical with it.)

Honor means to reverence, to submit yourself to, to treat with deference and dignity. It means to show respect, and to give value to the other person regardless of whether they deserve it or not.

God commands us to honor our parents, because they are our parents. That is all the credentials they need to merit our honor. To judge them worthy of less than honor is to put yourself above them and God, which is rebellion, and hateful to God.

My pastor once said that you can only honor your parents to the depth that you honor God! How are you going to draw closer to God so that you can honor your parents on a whole new level?

This is absolutely true. You cannot give something you do not have: and the only source of true love is God. And since you get love from God to give to others by loving God, and since honor is a form of love (i.e., charity in 1 Cor. 13), we cannot show true honor unless we honor and love God.

And we definitely cannot honor and respect and obey our parents when it is hard for us to do so without His divine strength and help.

Matthew 5:43-48 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others?] do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

If we are to love those who hate us and who are our enemies, how much more should we love our parents, who give themselves for us daily? What excuse do we have?

None.

Review: Starfire

Greetings,

Starfire - Stuart Vaughn Stockton

Starfire - Stuart Vaughn Stockton

Here I am again to review yet another Marcher Lord Press novel, and again, this is one of my favorites (no, I won’t say that about all of them, but probably about most of them, haha).

Starfire, by Stuart Vaughn Stockton. Awesome book. Pure awesomeness.

His characters were deep, memorable, connectable (i.e., I empathized with them); his world’s premise, development, weaving, and execution were absolutely stunning; and his story’s plot, intricacy, concept, and progression were perfectly crafted.

And it was beautifully unique: I mean, who has ever thought of doing a high fantasy sci-fi story with a world populated entirely by dinosaurs? I know I never did, but I wish I had. Brilliant idea, hard to execute though. But he did a marvelous job of it.

And then, who wouldn’t like to read a book from the perspective of someone tasked with the creation of a world-wide catastrophe??

These kinds of things make it really hard to publish, though, at least with regular publishing venues. With Marcher Lord Press and other companies like them, it becomes very possible to get awesome stuff like this into the hands of voracious and thankful readers like me. And like you. 😉

Starfire stands out in my mind as a Wow Book. I can’t wait to read it again.

The morals, the theme, the lessons, could even be described as life-changing. Powerful stuff, deep thinking, great challenges.

Another six out of five. 🙂 So go check it out.